Sparrows recount UK Tour

On 20 November, the Combined School Choir jetted off on a two week-long tour of the United Kingdom (UK). The cities visited included London, Watford, Chelsea and Banbury. The school embarks on the tour every three years and it serves as a huge cultural and social experience for the children.

Lelebohile Ramotlalane - Kamohelo Lephallo - Tshepo Lebididi - Karabo Khupe - Michelle Manganyi - Nomathamsanqa Ngamlana

The choir was kept very busy while on tour, averaging two performances a day over a two-week period. “The tour went very well, it was really lovely.  It was a great experience for the children. We also met some really great people; I was very impressed by the warm embrace of the people of England. The choir also did very well, at one performance we got a standing ovation where one lady actually cried. They really stepped it up and came alive on stage,” says Choir Conductor, Badelisile Gaobepe.

The choir was hosted by different host families associated with Sparrow through the Sparrow Foundation in the UK. “My highlight was getting to spend time with the host family that I was with,” recounts choir member, Karabo Khupe. She further adds, “Getting to go on tour of London was also a very great experience.”

Choir Master and Misstress - Dominic Gaobepe and Badelisile Gaobepe

The 12 member choir spent their time mesmerizing different schools and churches around the UK with their proudly African song and dance. Kamohelo Lephallo, in grade nine also recounts his highlights, “Singing at the different schools was my greatest highlight. I was also impressed with the kind of facilities the schools had that I am not used to.”

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The Sparrow Educational Trust Founder, Jackie Gallagher, thanks the National Lottery South Africa and the Edcon Group who made the trip possible and a great success. The National Lottery sponsored the funds that made it all possible while the Edcon Group sponsored clothes and toiletry.

“The whole point and theme of the choir performing was to celebrate former President Nelson Mandela’s legacy, his life and what he did for South Africa. The highlight was when the choir was invited to sing at the Royal Chelsea Hospital. They were the second choir to ever sing in the chapel for their Christmas celebration,” Jackie Gallagher says.

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Tudor Hall in South Africa

Each year, for the past 6 years, the Sparrow Foundation School has enjoyed the support of the United Kingdom based, Tudor Hall School for Girls. As part of their Tudor in 3 Continents program, the school disperses to community service projects around the world including South America, India and Africa.

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This annual program is aimed at instilling the value of giving time and broadening the minds of learners to the world outside of their comfort zone. It is also a huge cultural and social experience for both the Sparrow Foundation School and Tudor Hall School.

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The relationship between the Sparrow Foundation School and Tudor Hall started 8 years ago. This happened during one of the first ever Sparrow Schools Choir Tours in the UK and the relationship was developed by then Tudor Hall Governor, Heather Holden-Brown.

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The Sparrow Foundation School has hosted Tudor Hall for over six years running and their latest visit was on 24 October 2015, where they spent a week with the school. The Tudor Hall teachers spent their time working with the Foundation Schools’ teachers and assisting with after school programs. Meanwhile the Tudor learners spent most of their time with Foundation Schools’ pupils, teaching them how to play records and assisting them with their reading and writing.

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The school has also consistently offered financial support through the years. Over the two occasions that they have been to the Foundation School this year, they revamped the music room, sponsored a piano and revamped the schools’ reading corners.

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Meet the Sparrow Choir

In November this year, the Sparrow Combined School Choir will embark on a tour of the United Kingdom. The tour will be a huge cultural and social experience for the learners. Many of them will have never traveled outside their hometowns and will have had no idea of the real meaning of an English winter. Meet one half of the choir members:

Kamo Lephallo

Kamo Lephallo

Age: 16

Born: Orlando West, Soweto

Voice type: Soprano

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’m kind and friendly with people. Basically, what you see is what you get.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: In my spare time, I play computer games and chess. I really like playing brain games

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself as an actor or musician. If I go into the acting field, I would like to be an actor on Isidingo (popular South African telenovela). If I go into the music industry, I would rap.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: From what I have been told and read, he was a well-known, respected man that did a lot of good deeds for our country.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would help the poor by providing disadvantaged children with free basic education and jobs for their parents.

Kelebogile Peele

kele peele

 Age: 18

Born: Molapo extension, Soweto.

Voice type: Soprano

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I am quiet and shy in nature that is why I have a small circle of 4 friends. I usually speak when spoken to.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I cook and occasionally sing old school RNB music the likes of Mariah Carey and Tamia.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself opening my own restaurant in Sandton (Johannesburg) because I am passionate about cooking.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means Ubuntu and working as one as well as equal rights for all citizens.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would help street kids with shelters to accommodate them. I would also set up programmes to help them achieve their life goals

Noma Ngamlana

Nomathamsanqa Ngamlana

Age: 15

Grade: 9

Born: Mofolo, Soweto

Voice type: Alto

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I am a shy person. I am short-tempered and I love my family.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I read books when I have nothing to do so far I have read High School Musical.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself studying BA Tourism Management at the University of Johannesburg

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means fighting for people’s rights even though it personally affects you.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would build homes and hospitals for poor people.

Sanele Nkabinde

Sanele Nkabinde

Age: 14

Grade:  8

Born: Diepkloof, Soweto

Voice type:  Soprano

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I love singing because it makes me happy. I do not like greedy people.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: If I’m not singing, I am probably reading a book like Charlie and the chocolate factory, and Silver Book.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself as an English or Isizulu teacher. If I choose to go into singing, I will sing gospel songs like Rebecca Malope and Hlengiwe Mhlaba.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means an act of heroism whereby a man went to prison for 27 years in the fight for equal rights.      

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would reduce crime in South Africa by deploying more police onto the streets.

Karabo Khupe

Kari Khupe

Age: 15

Grade: ASP 3

Home: Parktown, Johannesburg

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’m a kind person that loves joking around. I also play sports namely netball and hockey.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: When I have nothing serious to do, I go to the gym or simply unwind at the mall with my friends.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself as a successful hockey player for the South African national team.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means freedom, and equal rights and responsibilities for all.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would reduce crime in South Africa by creating employment.

Tumelo Vilakazi

Tumelo Vilakzi

Age: 16

Grade:  ASP 1

Home:  Fourways, Johannesburg.

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I like singing a lot. I do not like cats because I have asthma. I attend church on Sundays and I like travelling.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I chill with friends and teach them how to sing. I also sketch fashion designs because I want to be a fashion designer when I grow up.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself working for a sewing company so that I can learn how to start my own fashion company, if not, I see myself singing on Idols South Africa or being a choir mistress like Mrs. Badesile Gaobepe (Choir Mistress).

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: Simply means to help people that cannot help themselves and spread peace.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would buy houses for poor people and I would reduce the price of bread, milk, toiletries and other essentials.

The tour will help expand links with Sparrow among a number of UK schools, some of whom have organised exchange tours of their own including Tudor Hall School for Girls and Westminster Under School. The aim is to expand knowledge of Sparrow to new audiences, as well as among existing supporters. Click here for the tour itinerary.

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